It is a rather well known fact that Overseas employment constitutes the largest source of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka, which constituted USD 6.4 Billion (LKR 827.7 Billion) in the year Protected content . An estimates 1.7 Million Sri Lankan are employed abroad impacting nearly 25% of the population. (Source – Web site of the Ministry of Foreign Employment of Sri Lanka). It does bear mention that these figures are quite impressive in stature, forming a solid source of much needed foreign currency earnings for the country. In short, the workers abroad fulfill a mammoth need of the nation, thereby playing a role in in stabilizing the economy and fueling the growth of the nation to a great extent.
It is thus rather remorseful that this very segment that plays such a large role in the economy has never been valued for their contribution or recompensed for the immense role they play in the economy.
If we may step back a few months, the Former President, Mahinda Rajapakse took the valued initiative of proposing concessionary permits for migrant workers amounting to the value of 60% of the FE they remit, in remuneration and recognition of the yeomen service to the country. This initiative delighted and ignited ardent interest in the foreign workforce, who strive long and hard in lands beyond boundary.
It is also a pity that many who enjoy the services of duty free concessions are those who do not contribute an iota in earning foreign exchange for the country.
We thus seek redress and in doing so, beseech to those in power, irrespective of their political affiliations, to kindly investigate and bring about proper procedures and policies to recognize and remunerate the contributions of the citizens employed overseas.
Chief amongst the requests are a concession on duty free vehicles. We also list out below some others for consideration, which we feel are reasonable, compensatory and would be of immense value to those working abroad.
1. Protected content Free Vehicle / Motorcycles Permit
2. Protected content Bank commission or wipeout completely (This will encourage people to use formal and legal method to remit their money).
3. Protected content faster money transaction mechanisms with the added possibility of internet banking using Sri Lankan banks with branches abroad. (Saves time and money)
4. Protected content exchange rates for formal and legal money transactions for Sri Lankan expatriates.
5. Protected content Interest rates for Savings / Borrowings
6. Protected content scheme / retirement benefit / life insurance
7. Protected content consideration for jobs in the government and private sector on their return to Sri Lanka.
8. Protected content facilities for casting their votes for all elections
9. Protected content for kids
10. Protected content unit for grievances for overseas workers
11. Protected content scheme in Metropolitan areas
12. Better duty free allowances for expat workers, with clear cut and measurable policies. (It is extremely sad that at present the allowance most often depends on the dictate of the customs officer one meets)
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